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Getaway in PA: Stay Cool and Experience Geological Beauty Close to Home at Penn's Cave

by on June 01, 2015 8:05 AM

It’s been a hot week in Happy Valley, with temperatures reaching the low 90s and humidity that bumps it up a few degrees.

However, Terri Schleiden, marketing director for Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park, is cool as ever.

"Now is really the time to come," Schleiden says. "If you’re looking for something to do and you want to cool off, it’s a great time to come because the cave is 52 degrees. We do tell people they should bring a jacket or a sweatshirt along because it is cold down there."

Located only 30 minutes from State College near Bald Eagle State Park, the historic Penn’s Cave, which is America’s only all-water cavern and wildlife park, offers attractions that will keep everyone in the family satisfied.

The main draw is the tour of the cave. Visitors ride in a motorboat and take in all the geological beauty of the cavern during the 50-minute tour (and riders may finally straighten out the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite). Then visitors can tour 1,600 acres of the park’s forests and fields to see some native North American wildlife. Schleiden says in the past couple of weeks, tour groups have even been able to see a young pair of nesting eagles fly by.

“You never know what you’re going to see,” she says.

The highlight of the tour, Schleiden says, is passing through the butterfly garden on the way to see some actual Nittany Lions.

And the park now has other attractions. The first is the 4,800 square-foot Prospector Pete’s Miners Maze. The maze’s surface is paved and participants get prizes for beating previous time records.

“It’s a great competitive thing for friends and family, but we’re also finding that a lot of people are interested in using it as a team-building exercise,” Schleiden says. “It appeals to all ages. We had grandparents here yesterday and I think they had more fun than the children did in the maze.”

For the more adventurous, Penn’s Cave now offers the off-road Cave Rock Mountain Tour. For almost three hours, the tour takes visitors from the cave to the top of the mountain over many natural obstacles.

“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Schleiden says. “This is something for an individual who is looking for some excitement.”

Schleiden says that Penn’s Cave makes for a great day trip because there is enough to do at the park to entertain families for a whole day. Visitors can take advantage of the park’s unique tours and then grab a bison or Texas longhorn burger at the concession area before going for a walk to take in all of the natural beauty.

“The cave wasn’t created by the Disney imagineers,” she says. “That is a natural attraction. For some reason, we often times think we have to go a great distance from home in order to find something interesting or enjoyable, and you really don’t need to do that.”

“Here, in Happy Valley, we have a place where you can escape to. When you go down into the cave, it’s a completely different world.”

Click HERE for more information about rates and schedules for the park.

Shawn Christ is a recent Penn State graduate who is working as an intern for
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